Letter From The Trenches #WW1 Memorabilia

Recently my husband bought a box of stamps at an auction, and in it he found a letter from over one hundred years ago, written on and shortly after Christmas 1914.  An amazing, lucky find—knowing my interest in both of the World Wars he left it on my desk.

The writing is small and in the old cursive style which I found a little hard to read in places, but I could decipher most of it.  I could see the writer’s name, which I thought was Captain AD Chafer. However, I did a quick internet search of military records and was unable to find him.

Next day I began writing out the letter, to help make sense of it. Our soldier mentions sharing his ‘dugout’ with a Scottish International Rugby player, D M Bain. This gave us a starting point to help narrow down the regiment of the soldier.

After that links led us on and finally we found our man. He was actually quite well-known in military circles: Captain Alfred Dougan Chater of the 2nd Gordon Highlanders (7th Division), also known as Alfred Dougan ‘Mickey’ Chater.  He fought on the Western Front from December 1914 until, in March 1915 at the battle of Neuve Chapelle, he received a serious shell injury which left his face disfigured. He was treated in Lady Hadfield’s Anglo American hospital in Wimereux, and survived the war. He married his pre-war sweetheart, Joy, in 1916 and later worked in the family paper business.

Captain Alfred died in 1974, and his 15 letters (which he sent to his mother and his future wife) only came to light after his death.

The letters look and feel original, but I am not an expert. I also wonder about their journey from Chater’s family to our doorstep in a box of stamps.

Here is a transcript of the first four pages of the letter which talk about the life in the trenches. The last three pages (not shown here) are of less universal interest as they are more personal, but are still interesting to me. http://www.scotlandswar.co.uk/pdf_Chater_Letter.pdf

Plus a link to a page on the Imperial War Museum’s website


Photo of Alfred:


An interesting article in the Guardian newspaper from 2014 mentions that Chater’s family gave The Royal Mail permission to use his letters for a set of stamps.


Further mention of Alfred’s letters are here


Part of another letter from Chater was read out by Captain Edward Harris of the Coldstream Guards, at the commemoration on the centenary of the outbreak of the first World War at Westminster Abbey in 2014. (page 10 of the document – A letter to Joy)

Link showing site of the Battle Of Neuve Chapelle:


We are still investigating how the letter got to us and would be interested in returning it to the Chater family.

Love Bombing

There’s a great article in You magazine today about dealing with grumpy, threatening, depressed,shy, underachieving or hyperactive children. In fact the method sounded good for any number of relationship issues with your child.

“Love Bombing – Reset Your Child’s Emotional Thermostat” is a book written by Oliver James and published by Kamac Books. It describes a technique, quite the opposite to strict punishment, where by you give your child intense love for a set time. The child is told that are going to have a period where they can do whatever they like within reason, whilst having the exclusive attention of a parent. The child is in charge of where they go, what they do, when they eat, when they go to bed along with getting lots of cuddles and being told that they are loved as often as possible. The time frame could be a weekend, a day or short bursts. Afterwards the experience needs to be rekindled daily for a half hour for it to have lasting effects.

Surprisingly the child is willing to accept boundaries afterwards. Often with stricter discipline the child is playing up because they are feeling needy and deprived, loveless and powerless. Love bombing dissolves the anger and neediness leaving calmer more biddable children. It’s more than just “Quality time” it’s about going the extra mile and reaping the benefits. Sounds good to me.

Love Bombing- Reset Your Child’s Emotional Thermostat by Oliver James

Good Deeds

Off to give my time “free of charge” this morning, listening to kids read and helping others to take those first steps up the ladder from first letter sounds to word-formation. Wish me luck, I’ve 10 little people waiting to share a few magical moments with me, let’s see if I can give some of them the gift of reading.

Cancer -The scary big “C” word

The Mail on Sunday has an article written by Kate Wheeler a child oncologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, reviewing a book called “A monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. Originally written for children it tells the story from the eye of a 13-year-old boy whose mother is terminally ill.

First written for children aged 9 years and over, it tackles the difficult subject of cancer and the emotions caused by the illness. It has even been reviewed in the medical journal, The Lancet. Kate has recommended the book to patients and their families, health professionals, teachers and friends. The book has just been re-packaged for adult readers.

The book can be summed up in the Authors own words, and is a book I shall put on my “want to read” list. Patrick Ness says; “The story is about loss and there’s not a person in the world young or old – who hasn’t experienced that”


Read a great article in the Daily Telegraph Weekend section. Harry Wallop reviewed the game Bananagram which sounded intriguing. The game has even been proclaimed the “Official word game to the London 2012 Olympics” although I’m not sure when the athletes would have had time to play it! The game is similar to Scrabble but without a board and players each take tiles and make up their own free-form Scrabble boards around the table using 15-20 tiles. The first person to use up all their tiles shouts “Peel” and everyone has to grab another tile. This may help out another player. At any stage during the game a player can rearrange letters to form new words. The winner is the first to use up all his tiles. There is no scoring, speed and accuracy beat large difficult words. The game is available in Argos, WHSmith, John Lewis and Tesco. It costs £11.70 in John Lewis. 

Read “Thrift” by Phil Church yesturday. A funny tale set in a term at an English secondary school. Failing kids and teachers, will they survive an OFSTED inspection and pull through for the end of term play? A good book.

Re-sit Revision

With my oldest child entering the second and last year of her GSCE courses, news comes that school policies of re-sitting exams will be stopped. This is a direct reaction to news from top universities. When they look at applications from students with identical A level results, they will then look back further at their GCSE results. The number of exams which the student has re-sat to enable them to achieve high results, will go against them. So the schools will, for the moment, be putting an end to limitless re-sits.

I think I agree, as a parent, of course I want my child to achieve their best, however I think one shot at the exam for everyone is also a good policy. It will ultimately mean less exams to sit and fewer exam stresses.

Of course in today’s climate with fees rising and when students leave university with huge student loan debts and no prospect of a job, I’m yet to be convinced that it is a viable choice. I’d like to see a return to apprenticeship schemes where learning and earning a wage go side by side.

Broken Hearted

When I picked my kids up from school, my heart wanted to break for my poor boy after his first day. Plunged into the scary unknown he found himself without anyone he knew from his old school in his lessons. He did have one friend in his tutor group, but this only meets at form time in the begining of the day. The school runs a vertical tutoring group system where each group has 4-5 kids from each year group in it. The system works well for peer mentoring.

Back to day one, the building repair works, started during the holidays had overrun and some rooms were unavailable for teaching. Only the new year 7’s and the oldest Year 11’s attended yesturday. After initial school tours and photos lessons began. My son didn’t understand from his tutor that he would attend taster lessons. Of the four lessons, he had room errors in three of them. A shy child at best he had to tell the teacher he wasn’t on her list, or he turned up at the wrong room. My heart just broke when he said children had laughed at him. Naturally he wanted to curl up in a ball and die of embaressment. He most certainly didn’t want to return for a second day of torture.

As a caring mother I have been in touch with the school to see if he had the right timetable and asked them to make it clear when room changes occur, especially for the new kids. Then together with my oldest child we went over routes to lessons and where rooms were. He now has a multi-coloured map. He has bravely gone off today with the intention to make one new friend, not get lost and to make it through to the end of the day. Me? After very little sleep, I’m home and a blubbering mess!!

Has a bomb gone off?

It’s now the night before my children start the new school year. We’ve tried on all the uniform and tied the tie so many times in so many styles. Now we are packing the bags. My daughter has retrieved all the school books and folders that were thrown into her wardrobe at the end of last term. She is trying to decide what she needs to keep, what can go and what she may need on her first day back. At the moment the lounge looks like a bomb has gone off in it. FILING sounds good at this time! MORE SPACE cries my daughter.

I must remember that after 9am tomorrow morning, life still carries on and I will need to go to work. Everything is focused on the 8.40am arrival time.

Plus I must remember that I need a treat after these last few stressful days. A bit of retail therapy I feel will be necessary. Then I can get on with my new book. I’m at dilemma do I continue with my “Farmer ” book? or do I write “More Talk of the playground”? which is itching to come out of my fingers. Or shall I just write them both?

Jenny Pox by JL Bryan

Jenny Pox (The Paranormals, #1)Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book really didn’t do it for me. A good start, then a worrying set of American teen political and social concerns. Finishing with an unbelievable mass slaughter of much of a town (would the outside world really not notice?) then an odd explanation for it all as if it would make everything ok and a happy ever after ending?!

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Oh well, hoping I’m not going to scare myself as I start The Ghost Files box set! Only 2 more days left of the summer holidays before the kids go back to school and the normal chaos begins, I’m sure it will be harder to keep reading at the same quantity that I have been recently, but I’d like to!!!

Back to school grumps

Anyone else putting up with the back to school grumps? So far it’s been quite a pleasant 6 week holiday, until this morning when things just seemed to blow up out of control. Reminders to child number 1 that there was still outstanding homework from child number 2, who is in limbo having left primary school but starts secondary next week, didn’t go down well! I wonder why?

Child number 2 is feeling vulnerable having been the oldest and “top dog” class last year, will now be the lowest and newest this year. So we have mood swings and senseless demands as we head into the mysterious world of being a teenager!

Child number 1 has only one more year at secondary, so we will have to think about 6th form options pretty soon.
Fate (Timeless Trilogy #1)Fate by Tallulah Grace

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a thriller to me and I’m afraid that thrillers scare me too much! I have disturbed sleep after reading them. However it was well written until the end, I found the ending rather abrupt after the long build up and for me I would have preferred to know more about what happened to the characters afterwards, but that’s the old romantic in me I suppose.It is good to challenger yourself to read different types of material.

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